Historical commentary: Stéphane Tessier. Directing and filming for this video: Nicolas St-Germain.
The video starts in front of the Persillier-Dit-Lachapelle house, a bourgeois residence built around 1840 at the heart of the Sault-au-Récollet village. Historian and cultural animator Stéphane Tessier (ST) puts into context the important role played by members of the Persillier dit Lachapelle family in the economic development of Sault-au-Récollet, Bordeaux, and Abord-à-Plouffe, three sites along the Des Prairies River. Paschal Persillier dit Lachapelle Sr. and his son Pascal both had connections with the Patriot’s movement of 1837-38. Later, the camera shows an adjacent residence, built for Miller Jean-Baptiste Laporte, whose son Hormidas would grow up to be mayor of Montreal.
ST We are standing in front of the home of Pascal Persillier dit Lachapelle Jr. But there was also a Paschal Persillier dit Lachapelle Sr. This was a very important, very eloquent, and very prosperous family. One of the richest in the northern part of the city.
The Lachapelles had been present in Bordeaux’s “Côte de la Misère” since 1735.
Time passes. Paschal Persillier dit Lachapelle Sr. settled in Côte des Neiges to operate a tannery. He decided to diversify his activities by first leasing a mill from the Sulpicians on the Lachine Canal, then a sawmill in Deux-Montagnes, and finally the Gros-Sault mill on Île Perry, in the Bordeaux neighbourhood.
To operate the mill he had his son Pierre Persillier dit Lachapelle build a house next to it, in front of what is now the Bordeaux Prison.
This house, which still exists today, is located at 790 Gouin Boulevard West.
Paschal Persillier dit Lachapelle Sr. also obtained the right to operate a ferry between Montreal and Laval (Île Jésus) in the Abord-à-Plouffe neighbourhood, known today as Chomedey.
He was offering residents of Laval and other villages to the North of Montreal a discount if they used his ferry to grind their grain at the Gros-Sault mill in Bordeaux. This angered Lambert Dumont, the miller operating the Légaré mill in Saint-Eustache, who saw this as unfair competition.
He was not happy about this.
Paschal Persillier dit Lachapelle Sr. later obtained the rights from the government of Lower Canada to build a first bridge. This was the first bridge to span a river in the history of Montreal: the Lachapelle Bridge, which back then was called “le pont de l’Abord-à-Plouffe.”
And when the bridge was inaugurated, Governor Gosford was there. Louis-Joseph Papineau and Denis-Benjamin Viger were also present on the day of the inauguration.
Then at the height of his career, Lachapelle started thinking about the future. He left the management of the “pont de l’Abord-à-Plouffe,” or Lachapelle bridge to his son; he later bequeathed the management of a mill on the Lachine Canal.
He died in 1851, and is now buried under the Church of the Visitation’s sacristy.
Pascal Persillier dit Lachapelle Jr., like his father, attended the Patriots’ rallies during the turmoil of 1837-38. He was in favour of trade liberalization with the United States, in order to free the country from its dependence on the British Empire.
Pascal Persillier dit Lachapelle Jr. made a big move in 1837. He acquired the mills on La Visitation Island, in Sault-au-Récollet.
He went on to build a large house in 1838, which he used as his residence, near near the mills.
In 1845, he built another house nearby for a hired miller: Jean-Baptiste Laporte. If you found a good miller in those days, you held on to him.
So we assume he was a good miller.
Incidentally, Jean-Baptiste Laporte would go on to have a child, Hormidas Laporte, who became the mayor of Montreal in the early 1900s.
In 1846, the mills on La Visitation Island all burned down.